OSHA Fines New York Contractor $116,000 for Alleged Cave-In Hazards

A Mendon, N.Y., contractor's alleged failure to supply cave-in protection for workers at two sewer installation sites in the Rochester area has resulted in the contractor being slapped with $116,000 in OSHA fines.

Victor Excavating Inc. was cited for a total of eight alleged willful and serious safety violations after OSHA inspectors last fall found employees working in unprotected 9- to 10-foot deep excavations at jobsites in Rochester and Brighton, according to the agency. Each excavation also lacked a ladder or other safe means of exit, the agency says.

Art Dube, OSHA's area director for western New York, contends that Victor Excavating was aware of the cave-in protection required but repeatedly refused to provide it.

"The walls of an excavation can collapse suddenly and with great force, stunning and burying workers beneath tons of soil before they have a chance to react or escape," Dube said. "OSHA standards clearly mandate that excavations 5 feet or deeper must be safeguarded against cave-ins."

Victor Excavating was issued three willful citations and fined $105,000 for an alleged lack of cave-in protection at both excavations and for failing to provide a ladder or other safe means of exit from the Brighton excavation, OSHA says.

The company also received five serious citations, with an additional fine of $11,000, for allegedly:

  • Storing excavated material too close to the edge of the Brighton excavation;
  • Not providing a safe means of exit from the Rochester trench;
  • Failing to ensure employees wore head protection and were trained to recognize and avoid unsafe conditions; and
  • Not instituting and maintaining an accident prevention program.

Victor Excavating has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to challenge them.

The investigation was conducted by OSHA's Buffalo area office.

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